Travis understands the art of teaching to consist primarily in creating spaces within which students can have formational encounters with the material. Over the past decade or so that he has been teaching biblical Hebrew, this guiding focus has informed the innovative Hebrew pedagogy he and several of his colleagues have developed, which now stands as a distinctive aspect of the curriculum at WTS. Our Hebrew curriculum incorporates both grammatical rigor with playful innovation, analytical skills with devotional engagement, interpretive methods with Hebrew songs and prayers that blur the lines between seminary classroom and corporate worship. Travis’s dual identity as a professor and pastor (ordained in the Reformed Church in America) informs this formational approach to teaching and learning.
In the Hebrew class Travis is known as “Moshe” (mo–SHAY), which is the Hebrew name Moses. Moshe means “to draw out,” as Pharaoh’s daughter drew the baby Moses out of the reeds along the Nile. Moshe sees his task as a teacher to create the conditions within which students’ full selves can be “drawn out,” by the Holy Spirit, as they encounter the Living God through the language and stories of the Old Testament.
In addition to interests in innovative pedagogy that prioritizes student learning through encounter and play, Travis’s other interests include: the dramatic art of OT narrative, using performance to teach the Bible, the role of the body and experience in the interpretation of Scripture and in preaching, and the importance and significance of Sabbath today. In 2018 he successfully defended his dissertation to receive a Ph.D. from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His dissertation is titled: The Art of Biblical Performance: Performance Criticism and the Genre of the Biblical Narratives.
One of his vocational passions is the attempt to bend the trajectory of the academy toward the flourishing of the Church. He is passionate about making the Hebrew Scriptures accessible to people who have never studied the language before and revealing the Old Testament’s intrinsic relevance to both pastors and lay people who are either afraid of it or feel like it is antiquated, boring, violent, or just plain strange.
“Learning Biblical Hebrew doesn’t need to give you an ulcer. Rather, I see it as an opportunity to discover more fully the depth, beauty, and nuance of the Church’s first Testament. I believe that the character of a Hebrew classroom ought to reflect the character of the Hebrew Scriptures. In other words, learning Hebrew should be a dynamic, interactive, image-rich experience that is thoroughly theo-centric and often surprisingly playful. My hope for graduates is that they will not fear their Bible, but will love it deeply, read it carefully, and interpret it faithfully.”